Wednesday, January 9, 2013

To Philip Larkin

Indian Literature (September-October 2012, No. 271), published by Sahitya Akademi, has carried four of my poems: ‘Male Bonding’, ‘Kin-Akin’, ‘Ramni Mohan Garden’ and ‘To Philip Larkin’. I am reproducing below the last one along with Philp Larkin’s poem ‘Wants’ to which my poems presents a counter view. My premise is that for Larkin’s generation craving for ‘loneliness’, which almost takes the form of longing for death, was perhaps optional, almost a luxury, but ‘loneliness’ for the contemporary generation is the only reality—the given operative context of our life—hence this counter perception of a craving for mingling with the crowd in my poem, which, many a time, remains a craving only. However, this is just my interpretation of the poem as a poet, which can be only one interpretation out of the many that the readers can figure out…And, in any case, even though I am producing the two poems together here, there is no comparison with the master Larkin (though, the desire for comparison runs beneath it all!)

To Philip Larkin
And even though the soul enjoys solitariness
dodges invitation cards, escapes phone calls
deletes SMSes and e-mails
the desire to communicate runs through

Even though close relatives turn into nodding acquaintances
walking past each other, unnoticed, unnoticing
and family album gets thicker
with photographs of lonesome adventures

the wish to be ‘wholesome’ chugs along.

Kumar Vikram

Beyond all this, the wish to be alone
However the sky grows dark with invitation cards
However we follow the printed directions of sex
However the family is photographed under the flagstaff
Beyond all this, the wish to be alone. 

Beneath it all, desire of oblivion runs:
Despite the artful tensions of the calendar,
The life insurance, the tabled fertility rites
The costly aversion of the eyes from death---
Beneath it all, desire of oblivion runs. 

Philip Larkin

Image courtesy:

Philip Arthur Larkin, CH, CBE, FRSL (9 August 1922 – 2 December 1985) was an English poet and novelist. His first book of poetry, The North Ship, was published in 1945, followed by two novels, Jill (1946) and A Girl in Winter (1947), but he came to prominence in 1955 with the publication of his second collection of poems, The Less Deceived, followed by The Whitsun Weddings (1964) and High Windows (1974). He contributed to The Daily Telegraph as its jazz critic from 1961 to 1971, articles gathered together in All What Jazz: A Record Diary 1961–71 (1985), and he edited The Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse (1973). He was the recipient of many honours, including the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.[2] He was offered, but declined, the position of poet laureate in 1984, following the death of John Betjeman. (Courtesy:


  1. Here reading Larkin is more reading a Poem-- a cerrtain pholosphy. Reading Vikram is more reading a prose, a protest. At least not a Poem.

  2. Just reproducing extracts of an e-mail received from David Boll, Poetry Editor, Magma Poetry, London, UK, way back in 2006 as it had some comments on this Philip Larkin poem:

    On Fri, 08 Dec 2006 david boll wrote :
    Thank you for sending us some of your work to look at for magma...I liked Pilip Larkin the best, especially the last line, more distictive and unusual than some of the rest.

    David Boll

  3. Comments received frrom Kuldeep Srivastava, poet, via-facebook:

    read it in IL. Good comparision.


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